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Alex Shevelenko
Content thumbnail Guide to Breaking into the Enterprise Market

One strategy is to sell to early adopters. You can build a nice business selling to other venture-backed businesses, who don’t have legacy tech stacks and are nimbler. You can also sell into the mid-market at this stage. You should track two key metrics at this stage: time to deployment/usage and how many new customer logos you’re adding. A mid-size enterprise or digital-ifrst organization is likely a better ift than a bigger enterprise, but the leadership team (i.e., not commissioned salespeople) should spend enough time in sales conversations with big, regulated titans to understand when you’ve got your product that’s acceptable to them. Whoever your customer is, at this stage you should expect to spend signiifcant effort building credibility, even if your founders have a long track record. If you’re a Series B or C company, the risk in continuing to focus on venture-backed startups is that your mid- to late-stage company hasn’t yet built its enterprise muscles. Make sure you have a list of recognizable enterprise customers who have cleared security, procurement and other hurdles. You should start to think about adding some product features that you’d consider nice- to-haves, so you’re building beyond the bare-bones essentials. Corporates will expect to ifnd a relatively full-featured product from a company at this stage—and a team capable of managing enterprise sales and offering the support they expect from major IT vendors. Whatever stage your company is in, remember that all enterprises are political, and you have to touch multiple constituencies to sell. Navigating the enterprise organization can be tricky for startups. Your culture is so different from your customer’s culture, you can run into a lot of unexpected hurdles if you don’t understand how your buyers’ minds work and what political issues they’re dealing with. But if you approach an enterprise in the right way, you may land that big account that could help take your company to the next level. “The competitor’s product looked like a third grader built the interface…why would I pay for that?” 8

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